The Glycemic Index is touted in most updated diabetic diet information as the key to one leg of blood glucose control – healthy eating. (The other three legs are exercise, medication and supplements, and stress reduction.) At present the Glycemic Load which takes into account both portion size and Glycemic Index of foods seems to me the best way to judge my diet.
Because Glycemic Load is determined by multiplying the number of net carbs in a portion by the Glycemic Index of the food, actual number of carbs is extremely important when evaluating a canned food. In addition the Glycemic Index of a food with carbohydrates is affected by whether or not the food contains fat, protein, and especially fiber.
Today while making for my vegetarian daughter and myself our go to lunch, open-faced broiled cheese sandwiches and soup, I decided to read the labels of some soups to see which one I should have. She had the tomato soup because it is vegetarian. The three soups I looked at were Tomato, Chicken Noodle, and Cream of Chicken and Mushroom.
First the Tomato Soup:
1 Serving contains Fat 0 grams, Protein 2 grams, Total Carbs 20 grams, Fiber 1 gram, Net Carbs 19 grams, Calories 90.
Second the Chicken Noodle Soup:
One serving contains Fat 2 grams, Protein 3 grams, Total Carbs 8 grams, Fiber less than 1 gram, Net Carbs 8 grams, calories 60.
Third the Cream of Chicken and Mushroom Soup
One serving contains, Fat 6 grams, Protein 3 grams, Total Carbs 7 grams, Fiber 4 grams, Net Carbs 3 grams, Calories 80.
All three soups have similar calories per serving. However, the tomato soup with the highest net carbs by far, the highest calories, no fat, and a little protein will have the highest glycemic load. Even if the glycemic index for all three soups was “1” it would have a GL of 19 and the Cream of Chicken soup would have a GL of only 3! Chicken Noodle would be 8.
But the Glycemic Index of these soups wouldn’t be close. The fat in the Chicken soups plus the slightly higher protein content would make them lower. The Fiber in the Chicken and Mushroom soup is what makes it so much better. The white-flour noodles with no fiber is the problem with the Chicken Noodle soup.
I suspect that the Glycemic Load of the Tomato soup could be as much as 10 times higher than the Chicken and Mushroom soup.
When you cannot get the actual GI or GL numbers for products I think comparing them and looking at net carbs can be very helpful.
I do know that making my own homemade chicken soup from scratch would be the best thing for me :), but sometimes there just isn’t enough time. We diabetics should limit processed food (everyone should) but when we do use them I think it behooves us to read labels and make the best decision we can.
Note: I checked out Cream of Mushroom soup to see if it would be a better bet for a vegetarian diabetic and it is. It is 100 calories but the net carbs are 7 grams. The fat content is the same as the Cream of Chicken and Mushroom at 6 grams and the protein is quite a bit less with only 1 gram. Still the net carbs are about 1/3 in this soup compared to the Tomato soup.